How Can I Make Money From My Website? The following answer can be applied to almost any website, although I am looking at it from a band’s point of view.
The key factor in making money from your website is lots of repeat traffic, marketing and sales are a numbers game. A commercial website has to attract repeat visitors in order to make a profit. First time visitors don’t usually buy, second and third time visitors are much more likely to. You get the visitors to return by giving them high quality content and by creating the right environment. It really is that simple! Then it’s just a matter of constant fine-tuning until you get a decent level of sales.
Website Traffic - there are two main sources of traffic: search engines and backlinks (social media, blogs, forums, fan & band sites, etc). Most of the referred traffic on a commercial website will come from Google, however, on a band’s website most of the traffic could come from social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter - if you work at it.
Content - is a much bandied about word in promotional circles on the Internet, that’s because most website promotion techniques rely on search engines. For instance, if you’re looking for a band on the net, you go to a search engine, you enter in the band’s name (or something else like: "Rock Bands Berkshire"), the search engine serves up its list of relevant websites. Exactly how the search engines do this is their secret, but we all expect them to get it right and display our lost band somewhere in the top ten results. They do it by analysing Content, that is: Your domain name (YourBandName.com), header tag information (title, description, keywords), the textual content within the BODY of the web page (includes anchor titles, image ALT text and maybe comments) and how the website content relates to the websites it links to and visa-versa. We also think that the search engines analyse language, that is to say, how words relate to each other (e.g. music centre, rock and roll, money spider etc.), compound words (e.g. moneybags, bandwidth) and compound phrases (typically found in domain names, e.g. alexisthompsonmusic, fiftynineviolets, theseasonsband, unsignedbandpromotion) - that’s what keeps the search engines coming back.
Content also means: ‘the quality of what the website has to say’ (that’s what keeps the visitors coming back). The best way to get that right is by being natural, informative, entertaining and up-to-the-minute.
Creating The Right Environment - obviously, get a real website and domain name; visitors, fans, friends and family will presume your website address to be, and remember your website address better if it is your band’s name.
Your visitors’ aims are simple, they want to: listen to how you sound. subscribe to the mailing list. find gig dates, etc. Each of these objectives requires a series of actions, as in: click on the "mp3 Downloads" link, then click on choice… click the "Join Mailing List" link, fill in the form… find and click the "Gigs" link… etc. Your visitors must make a conscious decision to continue, and they will only do that if you lead them easily through each stage, one click at a time - remember: each page can have a number of different entry and exit points. Revenues on the web are also determined by usability.
One of the most important sales pages on your website is the opening page (home page, index.html), yet many bands have a splash page - a huge image with ‘Click To Enter’ (no textual content)! The opening page is ultra-important because it is the principal page that; the search engines list, people link to, visitors land on and navigate their way to their objective (note: the only outgoing link from the opening page should be to your sponsor, who will require it, don’t include any affiliate style links). The home page should be full of information that will inspire and propel the visitor into positive action.
Try to exploit the unique purpose of each web page to make money from your website, for instance: don’t just display your name, address, telephone and email on the Contact Us page, include a contact form with a chechbox, so the visitor can sign-up to your mailing list at the same time. on the Gig Listings page, include comprehensive venue information that Google AdSense might notice, and include the appropriate travel, accommodation and ticket agency affiliate links.
Interaction with your fans is very-important, sell merchandise that encourages conversation, like fake tattoos with your band’s name/logo on. Ask fans to send snap-shots of them wearing the tattoos. Take photographs at gigs of fans flaunting their tattoos. Include the images on your Home Page, Blog, Gig Listings page. A photograph of a ‘carefully placed tattoo’ would also make a very appealing avatar and a topic of discussion on social networking sites.
Mailing List - a mailing list is the ultimate marketing, promotional and money making tool, it goes together with a website like rock and roll. The main purpose of a mailing list is targeted communication by email, thus keeping your fans informed. It will pay big dividends by boosting online sales and by increasing your audience size dramatically (for audience size - keep it local). When a visitor signs up to your mailing list, they are "hot" and are likely to be the most responsive - if you reply promptly. Your most valuable asset is your hot list. A mailing list takes a lot of looking after if you want results. Spend as much time as possible tweaking the list - you’ll never get it perfect!
A well honed and targeted mailing list of around 1500 local people (that’s targeted local, not random WWW), should yield about 400-500 supportive fans, and that means you can tell the venue manager with certainty that you will be bringing 100-200 thirsty fans to the gig.
Selling Music - is what most people think of when they think of making money from their band’s website, but selling music is actually no different to selling anything else online. It doesn’t matter if you are selling pet food, T-shirts or music it is the same equation, about 0.1% to 5% of visitors buy. Caveat1: for a correctly targeted audience the percentage can be much higher. Setting up an open all hours, 24/7, Internet music store to sell your music and/or merchandise worldwide, is an exciting and positive step forward for independent musicians, It opens up the world and allows you to keep full control over your music, your business and be totally independent. The store should be 100% online and 100% automated (where possible), obviously it has to be easy for everyone to use (you and your customers). You need to be able to: take orders and process payments. package and ship the physicals. manage the stock. handle customer service. control the accounts (*money* - you must have a safe, secure and easy payment system for your customers, they will not buy anything from you otherwise - PayPal will allow you to accept credit cards and handle customer contact like invoices, receipts and returns).
Caveat2: now I don’t want to give you the false impression that after you’ve shed blood, sweat and tears, and lavished time, effort and money on your wonderful album, that you will be successful selling it from your website. You probably won’t be! Even though selling music from your website is no different to selling anything else from your website, the market currently dictates that you give your labour of Herculean love away for free. So you should put together a business strategy that will allow this to happen - such as a sponsorship deal or some form of business collaboration where your ‘free’ music gives added value to ‘their’ product or service.
It may seem a pretty daft idea to give your music away for free when you’re focussed on trying to make money from it, but by giving your music away for free from your website, you might actually earn some real money! The aim is to get as many people as possible to download individual tracks and/or the album, you do this via your many and productive social networking profiles - send your fans & friends to your website. If you’re good at making music, and you really do have lots of fans & friends, your website and your free download page will be buzzing and would be worth a tidy sum to a business looking for advertising space where they can target a particular demographic profile. Selling advertising space on a highly active page is one of the most profitable monetization methods. Nothing on the internet is really free - nothing for nothing.
If you want to sell advertising space you need lots of repeat traffic, and proof of it - businesses won’t pay much for space on quiet websites. Google Analytics is quite good - it can integrate with your Google AdSense account. I also recommend: StatCounter - they’re both free.
Affiliate Marketing - is the practice of getting rewarded by a merchant for sending visitors or customers to their website. There are four parties that make up the affiliate marketing circle: the advertiser (the merchant), the network (the intermediary), the publisher (you!), the consumer (the visitor - Joe Public). After joining an affiliate marketing network like Commission Junction, you select merchants to be affiliated with, and after approval, you display their advertising banners and/or text links on your website. After your visitor makes a purchase or fills out a contact form you get paid, typically, your payment is a percentage of the sales price or fixed amount per lead. It’s a simple way to earn some extra money and get paid for your performance!
It’s important to choose merchants that complement your band’s genre and lifestyle - give your visitors what they want. Never overcrowd your website with garish banners, don’t forget, there is a fine line between encouraging visitors to buy and irritating them - pop-ups and pop-unders may tip them over the edge, they would me.
Google Adsense - is the premier Pay Per Click network - I think we’ve all seen an Adsense ad. Google match the advertisement to your website’s content, you earn money every time your visitors click on them. The fact that the ads are relevant to your website’s content means that your fans/visitors should find them useful and probably click on them.
Donations - ask your fans, friends and family for help. One of the easiest ways to monetize your band’s website is to include a donate button and ask your visitors to support you by giving a small donation. Don’t just stick a donate button on to your website and hope for the best, try to offer something for it, like: a dedication (written, musical). a link. a credit on the album cover. a goodie bag… Of course, fans, friends and family can donate their time and skills as well, create a special button and/or area for them. During the build-up to a specific gig or event, local businesses, looking to target your audience, may be interested in making a donation in return for a temporary advertisement.
So, How Much Will I Earn From My Website? - That’s one of those impossible ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions that everyone shies away from answering. I’m a fool to try, because there are so many complex variables that make the answer swing from one extreme to the other. But, taking all things into consideration and looking at the question seriously and openly; I would say that if an ‘average’ band worked hard and applied some genuine effort, they would make about £350 (about $560) per month from: ad. space, affiliate marketing, donations, Google Adsense, merchandise, etc., not including any sponsorship deals or business collaborations. However, the knock-on effect of trying to make money from your website is considerable, in the end you will have created a website full of high quality content that is user-friendly, easy to find and capable of opening important doors.
Do not concentrate on your website in isolation to everything else, it is important that it is a part of your overall marketing strategy. To make your website sell effectively you must take every opportunity open to you, point the potential customer towards your website using both online and Real World techniques - then people will hear your music, and you’ll make some money.